How To Pack Luggage

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There is an article floating around in the internet called "How To Drink A Glass Of Water".That article annoys me no end, what a useless piece of you- know-what. Queation is:Is an article called "How To Pack Luggage" not far behind? What could compel somebody to actually need such an article? The person who would conceivably search out this information would be someone who has stood looking at a piece of overpacked luggage that just won'tclose. Or someone who has just unpacked and discovered that the breakables have broken. Or someone who has just discovered that he or she packed too much of this, not enough of that, and totally forgot those. Someone who - hands raised in frustration - has looked up at the hotel ceiling and cried: There's got to be a better way.

There is.

There is an art to packing. A technique. Done well, it will make you look forward not just to the trip but to packing your bag or bags for the trip. This is what this article is about.

Let's take it step-by-step.

Step One: Check The Weather

There is a direct correlation between the weather in the place you are going to and the type of clothes that need to be in your luggage. So check the weather. Happily, its the easiest thing to do these days - remember, there's an app for that.

Of course, it's entirely possible to learn that it's so-and-so degrees and the humidity is this much percent, and have absolutely no idea what that means. A person who has only seen snow on television has no idea what winter is like. No matter how much you watch "Laurence of Arabia" you really won't know what a desert environment is like. In this situation, you might be lucky enough to know somebody who has been there. Get in touch with this person and ask him or her what clothes you should bring along. An alternative to this is consulting a travel guidebook - most of them have sections about what to wear. You can also leverage the internet by searching for videos and pictures of the location - look at the people, pay attention to what they're wearing.

By the end of step one, you should know exactly what type of clothing you should be putting in your luggage.

Step Two: Plan Each Day

Sit down, and, as best you can, write down what you expect to do for each day of your upcoming trip with a mind to noting how many clothes your going to need for each activity , how many change of clothing you will be going through. Remember to take into account "wardrobe malfunctions" and travel mishaps. Remember to also take into account that laundromats, clothing stores, and clothing repair shops also exist in other places. Making a plan is a hassle, but here are the benefits:

  • You avoid ovepacking and going over the airline weight limit.

  • You end up with a bag full of clothing you will actually use - not ones you thought would come in handy.

  • Since you've planned out what you anticipate doing, you are less likely to miss a key piece of your wardrobe. If, at some point in the trip, you're going on a hike, for example, there're your hiking boots right there. If you have a black-tie affair, your formals are in your bag - no last minute rent- a-tux necessary.

By now, you've matched your clothes to the weather condition or weather conditions in your destination and you've matched them against the different activities you will be doing in your trip. So you know what kind of clothes to bring and how many pieces to bring.

It's now time to guard against the possibility of forgetting to pack an item or two, and for that we have a packing checklist

Step Three: Consult Or Create A Packing Checklist

This section contains generic checklists not only for clothes but also for footwear and accessories and other stuff (you wouldn't want to forget your passport). You can consult the list just to make sure you have everything on hand or you can use it as a jumping off point for your own, more personal list. Creating your own list, again, is much more tedious, but you get the additional benefit of being able to mull over your list, crossing out an item there, adding an item here - you might want to do this for longer trips or for trips were there will be simply no time to spare. Also available in this section is a special list for beach trips, trips in wintry climes and a special list for the kids.

Packing List: Clothes

Before we get into the clothes packing list its worthwhile to note the popularity of wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant clothing among travelers.

Think about it. You're clothes are in your bag all scrunched up. You get to where you're going and you are going to need to spend some time ironing those clothes or having them ironed, otherwise you've gone all this way to look like a frump. Packing wrinkle-free or wrinkle-resistant clothing lets you do away with all that.

Here are the fabrics to look for if you want to pass on the ironing:

  • Nylon
  • Polyester
  • Lycra
  • Cotton/Polyester
  • Cotton/Lycra
  • Rayon
  • Cotton Knit
  • Bamboo Blend
  • Wool Knit
  • Angora
  • Mohair

Here's the clothing checklist:

  • Shirt
  • Pajamas
  • Dress
  • T-Shirts
  • Dress Shirts
  • Dress Slacks
  • Suit/Sport Coat
  • Jeans/Khakis
  • Raincoat

Cut down on the luggage weight by wearing your bulkiest clothes to and from your destination.

Packing List: Underwear

  • Bras
  • Panty Hose
  • Undershirts
  • Boxers/Briefs

Packing List: Footwear

In order to save on the weight consider wearing your heaviest shoes to and from your destination and packing your other footwear.

  • Dress Shoes
  • Loafers
  • Heels
  • Sneakers
  • Sandals
  • Socks
  • Slippers


Since toiletries are most likely to contain liquid items. Now is a good time to get into the TSA's 3-1-1 Liquids Rule. The italicized paragraphs below are lifted directly from the TSA website:

Transportation Security Administration (TSA) 3-1-1 Liquids Rule

You are allowed to bring one small bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes through the checkpoint. These are limited to 3.4 ounces or less per container. Consolidating these containers in the small bag separate from your carry-on baggage enables TSA officers to screen them quickly.

3-1-1 for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag ; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.

Be prepared. Each time a TSA officer stops to physically screen a carry-on bag, it slows down the line. Practicing the 3-1-1 rule will facilitate the checkpoint experience.

Declare larger liquids. Medications, baby formula, food and breast milk are allowed in reasonable quantities exceeding three ounces, and they don't have to be in the zip-top bag. Declare these items for inspection at the checkpoint. TSA officers may need to open them for additional screening.

If in doubt, put your liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes in checked baggage.

And now, for the list:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Mouthwash
  • Comb
  • Shaving Cream
  • Razor
  • Brush
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Deodorant
  • Perfume/Cologne

Packing List: Medicines & Health Related

  • Paracetamol (fever)
  • Ibuprofen (muscle pain)
  • Antihistamine (allergies)
  • Cold Medication
  • Motion Sickness Medication
  • Throat Lozenges
  • Multivitamins
  • Wound Ointment
  • Gauze and Medical Tapes
  • Band-Aid
  • Burn Cream
  • Vicks Vaporub
  • Insect Repellent
  • Diarrhea Medicine

Packing List: Accessories & Others

  • Wallet
  • Purse
  • Tie
  • Belt
  • Money Belt
  • Umbrella
  • Jewelry
  • Passport
  • Map
  • Travel Guide

Packing List For Children

  • Onesis
  • Socks
  • Shorts/Shirts/Dresses
  • T-Shirts
  • Shirts
  • Stroller
  • Pants
  • Sweater
  • Jacket/Raincoat
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Pacifiers
  • Scarf
  • Pajamas
  • Bathing Suit
  • Shoes
  • Underwear
  • Bottles
  • Diaper Bag
  • Car Seat
  • Child Carrier
  • Baby Blanket

Packing List For Beach Vacations

  • Swim Suit
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunblock
  • Beach Towel
  • Fins
  • Mask
  • Snorkel
  • Diving Gloves

Packing List For Winter Trips

  • Jacket
  • Wind Breaker
  • Gloves
  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Long Underwear

What Not To Pack

In this post 911 world do not bring knives, guns, lighters, nail clippers, silverware, perishable items, letter openers, liquids beyond 3.4 ounces (100ml) and alcohol in your carry-on luggage unless you want to donate them to airport security.

Step Four: Choose Your Gear


If you're buying new luggage or replacing old ones there are several things you have to take into consideration in terms of luggage choice. To help you along please refer to this Luggage Guide .

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are luggage-within-luggage. These are among the best, if not the best organization tools for travel - especially if you have a cavernous duffel bag or suitcase.

A set of packing cubes comes in varying sizes and function as compartments within your luggage. The biggest cube you can allocate to heavy clothes, the next beiggest to light clothes, next to underwear, small cubes can be for carrying jewelry and accessories and so on and so forth. Remember that the TSA prefers a quart-size clear plastic zip-top bag for liquids, so for your liquid items you might want to go with the TSA regulation instead of a packing cube since it will speed up your customs inspection.

Here's more about packing cubes.

Packing for Extra Purchases

Speaking of luggage-within-luggage, if you plan to shop a lot in your destination consider sliding a foldable duffel or canvas bag inside your luggage so that you have something to carry the sxtra stuff around in during your return trip.

Other Travel Gear

Here are some stuff that you might never use but might need:

  • extra cell phone chargers
  • extra laptop chargers
  • portable data backup
  • usb flash drives
  • duct tape
  • bubble wrap
  • zip top plastic bags

Ok, finally, it's time to do the actual packing.

Step Five: Pack Your Bags

By now you know what you need, how much of each you're going to use and you've made doubly sure that nothing is missing. Also, you've made your luggage and luggage accessory choices. Now you just have to put it all together.

Give yourself time to pack

Don't pack the night before - its unnecessary harrassment. On the day before your trip, you're luggage should be packed and locked just waiting for the trip.

Pack outside your luggage

Before putting your stuff in your luggage, place them all around your bag. List in hand, make sure everything is there. This is also the last chance to make any final decisions on what exactly makes the trip.

Rolling or Folding?

Before we get into whether you should roll or fold your clothes into your luggage, it is worthwhile noting that there are some clothes that must always be folded. These would be your formal wear.

Rolling your clothes will give you more space but since you're packing more, you'll end up with heavier luggage.

If you are going to roll your clothes be sure to fold the items alongits natural seams and roll tight to avoid wrinkles. If after you roll your clothes and there are lots of extra space in your bag, this will be a problem because your clothes will likely unroll and wrinkle. In this situation you can put your items in a plastic or canvas bag or in a packing cube. Or, alternatively, fold your clothes (or some of your clothes) so that they take up more space.

Another rolling technique is to create one big rolled bundle of clothing. This will work with thinner items of clothing. For example, put all your t-shirts one on top of the other then roll them all into one big roll.

When we talk about packing below it's your option to roll or fold. Now on to packing. . .

The way we recommend packing your bag is by creating six organized layers. This method has several benefits. First, it allows you to take full advantage of every cubic inch of space in your luggage whether it is a carry-on, backpack or full-sized suitcase. Second, it protects fragile or expensive items. Third, it allows for easier checking by airport authorities.

First layer: Footwear and oddly-shaped items and small pieces like underwear and socks

The following items are for the first layer: shoes and other footwear, hair dryers, portable fitness equipment, plastic mugs, extra purses. Anything that is bulky but non-fragile. Put these in first at the bottom of your suitcase, backpack, duffel or any kind of luggage you have. That breakable vase you just have to bring along does not belong with this group nor does your expensive DSLR camera - the bottom part of the luggage could be in for some hard knocks from baggage handlers. Arrange this layer as efficiently as you can. Dirty items, such as used shoes should be put in a plastic bag, but don't seal the plastic bag just yet, you might still have some good use for the storage space inside your shoes.

When you look at this first layer there are lots of nooks and crannies - lots of space to take advantage of. Do so by stuffing every available space in this layer with small items such as undergarments. Socks could go inside the aforementioned shoes. Just fill up every space between these oddly-shaped items to create a solid first layer.

If you are using a packing cube for these bulky items fill up every space inside the cube.

Second layer: Heavier clothes

Next grab your heavy clothes: Sweaters, jeans, raincoats, jackets. All the heavy stuff gets either rolled or folded and put into the second layer.

Middle of third layer: Fragile items and expensive items like jewelry and electronics.

Now lets look at any items you might have that are expensive, fragile, or both. All these items belong in the middle of the third layer. Not the third layer, the middle of the third layer. This will allow fragile items to be cushioned by softer material on all sides. The expensive stuff are safest at the middle of this layer which is the very core of your luggage.

The rest of the third layer and the fourth layer: Lighter items

We are down to light clothing like shirts. Put these items all around fragile and expensive stuff in the third layer then cover the third layer with a fourth layer of your light clothes.

Fifth layer: Folded items

Next we have clothes that you have to be extra careful with. Maybe formal wear or clothes made of especially delicate material. These clothes would most likely need to be folded rather than rolled. Put all these in as a fifth layer

Sixth layer: Toiletries and liquids

The sixth layer is the TSA or airport security inspection layer - it's the one closest to the opening of your luggage to facilitate easy inspection. Your TSA-mandated gallon-size zip top bag showing all your liquids should be right on top of everything else. Makeups, medicines, toiletries, all this stuff on this layer.

Well that's that! Zip up your luggage. Lock it. And your ready to go!

Step Six: Unpacking

Should you unpack your bags or just literally "live off your suitcase"? Your call, except for clothes that you want to keep wrinkle-free. Get these pieces of clothing out of the luggage and hang them in the hotel closet. For wrinkle-resistant fabric, this should be enough for them to lose the wrinkles.

If you're clothes are still wrinkled turn on a hot shower - steaming hot and hang the clothes in the bathroom - in a dry place not under the shower. The steam from the hot shower should get rid of the wrinkles.

Still wrinkled? Spritz some water on the clothes and do the shower thing again.

If your clothes are still wrinlkled then its time to say nhello to Mr.Ironing Board. Sorry. Or maybe the hotel or local laundromat.

That's it about packing your luggage. Have a great trip!

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